About fifteen years ago in India, Professor U.C. Rai accomplished some pioneering work with a technique of meditation called Sahaja Yoga. He was head of the Department of Physiology at Maulana Azad Medical College in Delhi. He himself had suffered serious angina attacks and was surprised to find that this technique of meditation seemed to alleviate his medical condition. Professor Rai, impressed by this personal experience, sought to scientifically document the effects of this technique. He set up a multifaceted research project. Part of this was a study on the effects of Sahaja Yoga meditation on chronic illnesses such as epilepsy and asthma.
Rai’s research team found that regular practice of this technique reduced the frequency, severity and duration of his patients’ epileptic seizures.11 Moreover, when Rai taught another group a mimicking exercise, which resembled but was actually not the real technique, the same improvement did not occur!12 Some years later, we, a handful of health workers in Sydney, came across Rai’s work. The results that he had achieved in conditions ranging from asthma to high blood pressure were very encouraging so we decided to test this technique under scientific conditions here in Australia.
This was the beginning of the Meditation Research Program. Our first goal was achieved when we established the Mind-Body Meditation Clinic. This was a non-profit service that offered instruction in meditation to patients looking for a more holistic approach to the treatment of their condition. A wide variety of patients were sent to us with many different problems; most of them chronic conditions for which there was little to offer within the mainstream of medicine. Within a few sessions of instruction most patients reported improvements. Some of the toughest cases, to our amazement, remitted completely with diligent practice of the technique.